Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!
Not only did I meet my personal goal of revising and adding to the first chapter of my unfinished novella, Oo-De-Lally, but I was able to do the same to its prologue and second chapter as well!
Getting this done was in line with the spirit of the writing contest I placed the work into on Monday. Although I may have put it into the contest for fun… I’m recusing myself from the contest proper because I’m moderating it… it still felt good to be working on this project again. I really like the story and I’m looking forward to writing more to finish it!
I won’t be sharing the full piece on Aethereal Engines until the novella is finished, but here’s the first third of the prologue, Upon a Dream, as it exists now:
Prologue: Upon a Dream
John heard his sister’s voice before feeling her soft fingers press into his hand. “Hey Hon, how are you?”
He groaned. “I feel like… someone’s been hitting me with a hammer, Robin.”
“Yeah, that’s how I felt after my crisis point too,” his sister Robin said.
John squinted without his glasses at the white blur above him. Laying on his back in the hospital bed, he tried to focus his eyes on the indistinct ceiling tiles and fluorescent lights overhead and failed. An attempt to rise prompted Robin to squeeze his fingers and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Take it easy! Your fever’s dropping but it’s still at a hundred and three.”
John looked to his left seeing only an orange and green blur where his sister sat. He rubbed his eyes. “How’s Kate? Is she better?”
“She’s in the tub,” Robin said from her bedside chair. “She’s as sick as you were last night and they are trying to keep her fever down.”
“I’ve got to see her,” John said trying to rise again. “She’s got to know I’m okay…”
Robin hardly had to put any pressure on her brother as she leaned in and kept him from getting out of bed. “John, no,” she said softly. “She’s having seizures, Hon. The doctors are doing everything they—”
“—I’ve got to go—” John said finding the feather weight of his sister too much to overcome.
“—She’s unconscious! She wouldn’t even know you are there!”
John realized that Robin might as well have been Superman in his condition and relented. Yielding to her gentle force, he sank back into the mattress with his pulse thundering in his ears and pained skull. “She would know,” he wheezed before coughing.
Robin felt him stop struggling and pulled back. “I’m sorry, Hon. She probably would, but she’d also understand that you’re too sick to go anywhere right now.”
She watched her brother nod and close his eyes below her.
“She’ll be okay. I asked the nurse to get an update, and I’m sure she’ll be back soon.”
John remained supine and exhausted from even the small effort he had managed trying to rise. He returned to rubbing his eyes. “Did they let you out of the quarantine wing to see me?”
“No, you’re in the quarantine wing with me.”
“Oh,” he said pulling his hand away from his eyes. They then flashed wide open as what Robin had just said fully registered. “Oh! Fuck!”
“I’m sorry Hon, I guess we really will be dealing with this together.”
John took a deep breath and sighed. “Not your fault, Sis. It’ll be alright, just… Really weird for Kate and everybody.” He looked at Robin with vision that now seemed remarkably clear for being without his glasses.
She looked back at him with the fox face and deep amber eyes that her transformation had left her with, and then smiled. “It’s going to be weird for all of us.”
“You’ve been practicing,” John said reaching up to touch the white fur of her chin and cheek. “You don’t look like you’re going to bite me anymore.”
“Thanks,” the slim vixen replied leaning in to let her brother touch her face. “I might be giving you some pointers on how to do it right in a few days if—”
John heard a crack in her voice as she stopped herself from saying more. He could feel the damp tears in the fur under her eyes while his thumb brushed her cheek. “You’re beautiful,” he said managing a weak smile. “I still say you look like Maid Marian.”
Robin closed her eyes and allowed herself to enjoy her brother’s comforting touch a little longer. “See? I always told you I was a Disney Princess,” she said wiping a tear away with a dainty, black furred hand. “I’ll get something in pink and lavender and win all the cosplays now… Ha-ha.”
He watched her lean back into the chair clad in only a seafoam green hospital gown. Petite and shapely, the red and white vixen that now sat to his side swaying a foot in time with her bushy tail looked quite unlike the sister he had grown-up with. Or the woman in the throes of fever delirium that he and Kate had rushed to Boston Mercy Hospital while two-thirds of the city was locked-down by riots and martial law.
Ten days had passed since John somehow navigated his brother-in-law’s Lincoln MKT through a city of flaming cars, barricades and gunshots to reach the hospital. Robin had fallen unconscious, slipping into seizures and sending her husband Greg into hysterics as they reached the last checkpoint. John’s wife Kate, as usual, was his rock in the storm; holding his sister and being an island of calm in the chaos of Greg’s spitting threats to the national guardsmen as they turned them away.
When Greg’s tantrum was abruptly ended and silenced by an M4 carbine barrel pressed against his cheek, it was John that had wordlessly handed an envelope stuffed with a thousand dollars in cash to get them waved past the parameter. Inside, Robin was in recovery a few days later. That was when John and Kate came down with the fever themselves.
“Where’s Greg?” John asked.
Robin’s canid ears flattened. “He’s back home,” she snapped.
“Wait a minute, Sis… he left?”
John watched Robin try to reach back and grab a lock of long hair to roll between her fingers out of nervous habit. She then withdrew her hand realizing yet again that it was gone. “He said that he was worried about looters.”
“Uh-huh. Right.” John shook his head and looked at his hand and arm as he laid in bed. He noted the dark, thick hairs that had taken over his backhand and forearm with a sinking feeling.
“He’s still freaking out, isn’t he, Sis?”
Robin nodded. “I keep telling myself that I shouldn’t be mad at him. You know, because this is as weird as all fuck and I should give him some time to adjust. But when he squirmed away like he did when I touched him, that… That really hurt. I just wanted to hold his hand.”
“I know it’s not the same, but you’ve got mine,” her brother said offering his hand again. “Kate’s too. Of course, mine’s looking hairier than normal…”
She reached out and squeezed John’s fingers. “Yeah, I noticed that. I hate to break it to you, but it’s going to probably get a lot worse.” Robin tried to smirk and roll her eyes, but on her long muzzle the expression looked more like a snarl of fangs.
“You still need to work on that one.”
Robin shook her head then gave a better smile. “Sorry.”
As usual (and like most writers), I’d love to know if you enjoy this opener. :-)
In my corner of the world there’s a holiday tomorrow and a long weekend thereafter. I’m looking forward to the short vacation from work and time with my extended family over the Thanksgiving holiday itself. The rest of the weekend I plan to stay clear of retail stores and the festival of consumerism and greed that is Black Friday and the start of the Christmas shopping season in America. Instead, I’m going to write. I’m going to create things and not buy things that I and my loved ones don’t need with money. I’m going to be happy and not live the lie that your love for someone must be expressed with material gifts to be “real”.
Instead, I’m hopeful that by Monday I’ll be gifted with the first draft of my long delayed pirate story, and tell a tale of the infamous buccaneer Hakbutt Bryne… ;-)
Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!